Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Demonstrators protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Photo: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr/cc)

Outrage as Texas Senate Passes 'Unconstitutional' Bill That Would Hit Pipeline Protestors With Up to 10 Years in Prison

"Big oil is hijacking our legislative system," said Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network

Jake Johnson

Sparking outcry from indigenous tribes and environmental groups, the Texas state Senate on Monday passed industry-backed Republican legislation that would hit pipeline protestors with a third-degree felony and up to ten years in prison.

"Here in Texas, members of the legislative body are looking to pass laws that harshly criminalize free speech and the right to protest," Juan Mancias, Tribal Elder with the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, said in a statement.

"We will continue to support and fight beside the indigenous communities in Texas to make sure these unconstitutional laws do not stand."
—Dallas Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network

As the Associated Press reported, the bill "would classify pipelines as critical infrastructure, putting them in the same category as power plants and water treatment facilities."

According to the AP, the "amended bill would still subject those who trespass and damage the facility to a third degree felony with up to 10 years in prison," a sentence on par with the punishment for attempted murder.

"But people impairing or interrupting operations would now face a misdemeanor with a fine up to $10,000 and potentially up to one year in jail," the AP reported.

As Common Dreams reported, the Texas House passed the legislation earlier this month.

Republican state Rep. Chris Paddie, the author of the bill, insisted that his legislation would not punish peaceful demonstrators, but indigenous leaders at the front of the fight against climate-destroying pipelines in Texas weren't buying it.

"We are at a tipping point as our ecosystems decline at accelerated rates and instead of protecting our environment, we are protecting big oil and pipelines," Jennifer K. Falcon, campaign manager with Society of Native Nations, said in a statement. "Across the country, we have seen these bill challenged for stripping us of our constitutional rights."

Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network vowed to fight the Texas bill and other similar Republican legislation across the country.

"Big oil is hijacking our legislative system," Goldtooth said. "Our Network is suing the state of South Dakota for passing a bill similar to the one being debated in Texas. Both are unconstitutional attempts to suppress public protest and are nothing but fear tactics. We will continue to support and fight beside the indigenous communities in Texas to make sure these unconstitutional laws do not stand."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

With Amazon Accused of Cheating, NLRB Official Says Workers Should Get Another Union Vote

"Amazon cheated, they got caught, and they are being held accountable," said the head of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union.

Jake Johnson ·


Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer Told 'Stop Playing the Blame Game' and Extend Eviction Moratorium

"Who are the adults in the room?" asked the Sunrise Movement's advocacy director. "Do whatever it takes to extend the eviction moratorium and end this eviction emergency."

Jessica Corbett ·


Report Outlines 'Crucial' Need for Biden Administration to Aid Climate Refugees

"Ready solutions are available to address root causes and displacement that are centered in human rights and humanitarian protection."

Brett Wilkins ·


Hundreds Arrested in DC Demanding Voting Rights, End to Poverty, and Death of Filibuster

Clergy and low-wage workers with the Poor People's Campaign are also calling on Congress to treat the nation's immigrants with respect.

Jessica Corbett ·


'He Should Resign': Women's Rights Group Denounces Violent Misogyny of Kevin McCarthy

"With Kevin McCarthy voting against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, it is clear that his comments are reflective of his deeply held beliefs about how women should be treated."

Brett Wilkins ·